New Bedford’s Morse Cutting Tools Left Its Mark on the City
The Morse Twist Drill and Machine Company was founded in 1864 in New Bedford by Steven Ambrose Morse. Morse employed thousands of workers – mainly men – over its 136-year history.
The company developed revolutionary breakthroughs in drill and machine technology. MorseCuttingTools.com says, "In the latter part of the 19th century, the company began a pattern of acquisition which resulted in enormous growth."
Financial issues, multiple ownership changes, and a labor dispute in May 1982 contributed to the end of the New Bedford operation.
Rebranded as Morse Cutting Tools, the sprawling, blocks-long brick mill complex at Pleasant and Wing Streets ceased operations in New Bedford in 1990.
Years of toxic chemical use by the company resulted in a contamination issue for residents of the South-Central neighborhood.
In 1997, the plant was demolished, but according to a 1998 Standard-Times article by Natalie White, 200 tons of debris remained at the site.
White reported, "Ten days after taking office, New Bedford Mayor Fred Kalisz announced a breakthrough in negotiations with Costello Dismantling of Middleboro," that led to the removal of the debris to the Shawmut Avenue Landfill.
WBSM reported in April 2022 that residents of the neighborhood are dissatisfied with the remediation of hazardous materials from the former Morse site.
"An initial cleanup by the property owners cleaned the site above ground, but underground contamination still remains," WBSM News reported.
Discussions are underway to determine the best options for the reuse of the former Morse Cutting Tools property.
Morse Cutting Tools is still operational with headquarters in Madison Heights, Michigan.